Friday, November 14, 2014

An Evening with Il Divo...or How Can Four Blokes (and one small woman) Make So Much Noise?

Last week I had a very last minute opportunity to go and see Il Divo when a friend who had tickets found herself suddenly unable to go. I left work and hotfooted it down to the Bournemouth International Centre in a real pea souper to listen to four blokes singing classical music - or, as it turned out, musical theatre.

I like Il Divo. I like any many who can hold a tune to be honest. The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach but the way to mine is definitely through a beautifully rendered song.  I signed the Marriage Register to the sounds of Il Divo singing Unbreak My Heart and we all know how that ended so perhaps I should have stayed well away but anyway, ticket in my hot little hand, I sprinted up the steps to the Circle, arriving half way through the first song so I had to wait at the entrance until there was a suitable break in the music.

The sound was amazing. You know that expression? A wall of sound. That was what it was.  I could feel it in my kidneys.

It wasn't until I was shown to my seat that I became aware that I was definitely one of the younger members of the audience. I was surrounded by a sea of grey heads interspersed with bald ones - those being the long suffering husbands who had been dragged along, clearly under duress from the body language of a few. I've never been to  concert where there were so many walking sticks!

By the third song I realised that an evening with Il Divo was not going to be exactly what I thought. I don't suppose I have ever really thought about the demographics of their fans, there being far more important issues to ponder, generally speaking.  The fact that that I bought my mother one of their CDs for her birthday should probably have been a little pointer.

The audience were, by and large, femmes d'un certain age who, for one night only, were transported back to their young, horny youth. By the third song I realised that these guys could fart in a bathtub and get a standing ovation.

The evening was rife with sexual innuendo of the sort that made women of their generation giggle like school girls and women of mine cringe ever so slightly.  Carlos, the Spanish one with the fabulous voice, seemed to spend much of the evening talking about 'making lurve' to these beautiful women. I only hope he wasn't around when the house lights went up!

Still, in the more upbeat numbers, it was good to see the 'femmes' cast off their walking sticks, like Lazarus rising from the dead, and shake their booty in the aisles. Go girls!

The music was amazing and had the added bonus of Lea Salonga, who I first saw in Miss Saigon when dinosaurs still walked the earth.  Anyone who has seen Les Mis will probably have seen Lea as she has played both Eponine and Fantine.  She's also teeny tiny but with a voice that could take the roof off.

What was quite nice to see was the lack of phones held in the air to film the concert. Clearly this sort of this was Not Acceptable judging from the glares I got from the lady next to me any time I tried, hence the rather fuzzy photo. However, at the intermission I was very impressed at the number who whipped out their phones and posted status updates on Facebook.

Whatever you feel about Il Divo, you can't ignore the fact that their harmonies are beautiful, making the hair on the back of your neck stand up and I'll be honest and say there were a few teary moments for me but for me the beauty of the evening was watching all these 'laydees' behaving really rather badly. I never expected to find myself in a situation where women only slightly younger than my mother were shouting out some really quite bawdy stuff to some hot young men. I'm sure when they started out they had visions of young women mobbing them at the stage door. I think a day in the life of an Il Divo groupie is more likely to involve a trip to the arthritis clinic than hot sex in a hotel room - although I think a few of them would have happily given it a go, pacemakers and artificial hips permitting.

As a lesson it growing old disgracefully, it was spot on. Femmes d'un certain age, I take my hat off to you!





Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ten Reasons You Know Your Son Has Gone to University...

  1. You don’t trip over five pairs of smelly trainers when you come in through the back door

  1. Your food bill has suddenly halved and your shopping list no longer includes a jumbo pack of chicken dippers (usually consumed in one sitting at 3am) and eight litres of milk

  1. You hear those immortal words ‘In a minute…’ half the usual number of times when you ask someone to lay the table (well I do still have one at home)

  1. Your fridge seems  unusually empty without the usual fridge pack of beers which are kept chilled for that impromptu party invite

  1. The house isn’t filled with the strange cacophony of his increasingly dodgy taste in music – well, dodgy to me anyway

  1. You have woken up a least once in a blind panic because that familiar head hasn’t poked round the bedroom door at 4am to say ‘Mum, I’m home’. Then you remember he’s not gone out, he’s actually gone – for a while anyway

  1. You come home from work and the kitchen looks the same as you left it in the morning rather than the aftermath of a mortar attack

  1. In his bedroom, the wardrobe has replaced the floordrobe

  1. You have two bottles of Diet Coke that have been in the cupboard for longer than a day

  1.  There is no-one telling daft jokes at the dinner table, gently teasing his sister, giving you hugs every day, inspiring you, educating you, making you laugh, making you cry, making you smile. That lovely face that you have looked on almost every day of his life, that you have watched change from a chubby baby, to a messy toddler, to an awkward adolescent and finally to a handsome young man is no longer a daily feature of your life and probably will never be again. And you realise that he has left a hole in your life that you could drive a juggernaut through. And you also realise that all those friends whose kids have already left, whose over-emotional Facebook statuses you had quietly scoffed at (while hitting the ‘Like’ button, of course) when they left for university had been telling the truth.  It really is like someone has cut one of your limbs off.


It’s part of the paradox of parenthood. You want them to spread their wings, to go out in the world and make their mark, be their own person, have their own life but damn, it hurts too. The most important relationship in your life has changed subtly and will never be the same. The years that you have invested in their life and their upbringing has, inevitably, come to this, the moment they leave and though you always knew it would happen, when it does you  realise that all the preparation in the world hasn't made you ready for this moment.